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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

NIGHT FELL, BUT SHE DID NOT SLEEP

by Devon Balwit


Photo: Rohingya refugees arriving in Bangladesh after crossing the Naf River this month. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times


In the next violent blur of moments, the soldiers clubbed Rajuma in the face, tore her screaming child out of her arms and hurled him into a fire. She was then dragged into a house and gang-raped. By the time the day was over, she was running through a field naked and covered in blood. Alone, she had lost her son, her mother, her two sisters and her younger brother, all wiped out in front of her eyes, she says. —The New York Times, October 11, 2017. 


It’s a story you tell and tell, each time entering
by a different scar: this the burned baby, this

the clubbed jaw, this the rapes, over and over.
Even when you say nothing, you tell it, your eyes

so loud others turn away, unable to bear it
as you one more flee the burning, naked.

Their own children paint similar pictures,
paining the aid workers: soldiers shooting,

the fallen, red sources, riverine. You drift
like a storm cloud until, again, there is too much

in you to hold, then you break. People fold
down their tent flaps. You understand. What

can be done with you—a hole with a voice,
a ghost with a body, an endless affront?

You shudder canvas as you pass. The next surge
swells. It runs through you. It mows you down.



Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. Her poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, Rattle, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat's Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.

Monday, October 16, 2017

RIVER OF WINE

by Vera Ignatowitsch


A boiling river of wine flows underneath smoldering debris at the Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa, California on Tuesday. —Daily Mail (UK), October 11, 2017


She called me Cabernet
since I liked red      
a busty bold bouquet
my preference.
Our California dream
like lightning led
unerringly downstream      
in deference
to molten lava nights
black cherry style                
oblivious to sights              
of daytime cares
until the bottles burst
and wine worthwhile
spilled over; our lips pursed
consuming air.
The Sauvignon she craved
has all been spilled,            
and wishing we had saved
some, will not serve              
to resurrect the blaze
we poured to build
those dazzling yesterdays
we still deserve.


Vera Ignatowitsch is addicted to poetry, raspberries, and occasionally good scotch. Her poems have appeared in 2 anthologies and a number of publications including The Lyric. She is editor of Formal & Rhyming poetry for Better Than Starbucks Poetry Magazine.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

HACKING ENTERTAINMENT

by Catherine Rauchenberger Conley


‘Game of Thrones’ cast gets no scripts after HBO hack: In recent seasons, actors got their parts through verified email. Then, a few months ago, HBO was hacked and various show files were stolen. The culprits demanded a ransom of several million dollars to prevent episodes from being leaked online. According to [Nikolaj] Coster-Waldau [who plays Jaime Lannister] security for this final “Game of Thrones” season is the tightest yet. Actors in each scene are equipped with earpieces and are fed their dialogue to deliver, line by line. “We’re not even going to get the script,” he said. —Page Six, October 13, 2017

Sometimes,
you let the cat out of the bag.
Other times,
you close the barn door after
the horses have escaped.
In neither event,
Is the past recoverable.

So too with hacking—
It is only discovered,
after the deed is done,
and Everyone knows,
and investigations are launched,
and fingers are pointed,
and security is weakened,
and homelands are sacrificed.

No matter the findings,
the consequences have
run their course,
and whatever the sanctions,
the punishment will never
bring us back to the halcyon days
of happy ignorance and anticipation.

And the hackers become both
Pariah and Hero depending on which
side of the aisle you stand
and how the latest revelations
painted your actions or those
of your idols and enemies.

Except for the latest breach, denounced
By All and which will be prosecuted to
The. Fullest. Extent. Of. The. Law.
Because who cares about what
Edward Snowden might release when
Jon Snow plot spoilers are at risk,
And even Julian Assange knew better
Than to reveal the secrets of Queen Cersei—
For the public is only truly appalled if
Anyone should have prior knowledge
Of what Tyrion, Daenerys, or Jaime,
Might have in store for you next season.


Catherine Rauchenberger Conley is a poet, writer, crafter and high school English teacher. She lives in Queens, New York with her husband and cat. The former supports her writing interests; the latter steals her pens. More of her writing can be found in Tuck Magazine or on her blog. Twitter @CatherineConl18 Instagram @alycatcreations1

Saturday, October 14, 2017

NOT JUST LISTEN, BUT HEAR

by Jonel Abellanosa


Cartoon by Eoin Kelleher


You heart is telling you
Billions of people need this planet, too
Countless animal and plant lives
Live on this planet, too

Your brain is telling you
The desire to join an I.Q. contest
Expired 60 years ago

Your pancreas is telling you
Be compassionate

Your kidneys are telling you
You’re septuagenarian already,
Be humble

Your liver is telling you, be kind

Your blood pressure is telling you
Be understanding

Your future gout and rheumatoid arthritis
If you still don’t have them
Are telling you
It’s okay to kneel
Like it’s okay to be black

Your arterial plaques are telling you
Don’t block the entry of homeless people
People fleeing political persecutions
People who risk their lives
To hold on to dear life
You may drive away people
But you can’t change the course
Of your blood —it will burst
Through a blockage

Even if you don’t like it


Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines.  His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Rattle, Anglican Theological Review, Poetry Kanto, Filipino-American Artist Directory, The McNeese Review and GNU Journal. Early in 2017 Alien Buddha Press published his third chapbook Meditations. His latest poetry collection Songs from My Mind’s Tree is forthcoming (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York).  He is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Dwarf Stars Award nominee. A number of his poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News.

Friday, October 13, 2017

AT THE CROSSROADS

by James Cronin


The Seven Acts of Mercy by Caravaggio


The first time I saw "The Seven Acts of Mercy" . . .  I knew I wanted to write a play about it: its generosity, its complications, its aggressive, violent compassion. —Anders Lustgarden in his introduction to the 2016 Bloomsbury Methuen edition of his play The Seven Acts of Mercy.


The artist painted a swarming crossroads where
two alleys, winged heaven and Naples did
intersect; all to show the fruits of fair
mercy, with the knife edge of its need not hid.

The city’s shame is so public, its wanton
cruelty on display. Does it want us
to keep moving, and not gaze at that fountain
replenished on its own? No, the chorus

reaching from the heavens bids us instead
to stare: as a noble hands a cloak to a nude
beggar; a weary pilgrim with a red
beard is pointed to shelter and food;

a servant moves a corpse for burial;
and a prisoner, condemned to starve in jail,
is suckled by his child, a surreal
story of old Rome. All true? Isms fail

where story succeeds. We are numbed
by numbers. Empathy demands a tale,
a face in the crowd. Compassion can’t be summed.
But now, even a clear summons can fail.

Where once only moral truth was needed,
our leader, peacock-brained, sees but his tail.
With miles of devastation unheeded,
his gloried behind dims all loss from the gale.

And those enablers of killing still stick
to their guns and sanctify murders’ ease.
No compassion! No mercy! What sick
huckster sells as freedom a deadly disease.


After a four decade career in the law, James Cronin returned to his first love, literature. Since his judicial retirement in 2007, he has participated in three poetry groups and has served as a facilitator in numerous courses for a lifelong learning program in Fall River, MA.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

PERVERSE URGES

by Richard Schiffman




Last week on the floor of the U.S. Senate
the Right Reverend Senator Bugger Mugger
called me and my green-bellied ilk
               “tree huggers”
Has that cracker ever got my number!
He said, “Buddy, keep those muddy
mitts of yours on your own kind.”
“Amen sir,” I replied, “only I’m wondering what kind
of kind that is.” Granted I’m a bit confused
               (asexually speaking)
something to do with being raised by a missing planet,
abandoned by an ecosystem at a tender age.
Seems I’ve conceived a perverse urge to mate
with a star, or if that’s too cosmic, with a right whale,
a snail darter, a spotted owl—
any species that’s as endangered
as I’m feeling right now.
But I can’t seem to find an other
that’s other enough to satisfy
               my kinky appetites.
My eco-therapist is trying to suss it out.
Right Reverend says it’s unbiblical,
calls my fondness for nature unnatural,
says marriage is between opposite genders,
not genus, has drafted legislation
to make tree-hugging in public a federal crime.
The measure has broad support from speciests
on both sides of the evolutionary aisle.
Hell, if it passes, I’ll diddle with a river.
Hear that’s still legal in California.


Richard Schiffman is an environmental journalist, poet and author of two biographies. His poems have been published in Southern Poetry Review, Alaska Quarterly, New Ohio Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, and many other publications. His poetry collection What the Dust Doesn't Know was published by Salmon Poetry in February.

ABBOTTS LAGOON, PT. REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE

by Buff Whitman-Bradley




We lean our backs against
A bleached driftwood log
While we eat our simple lunch
And watch the Pacific
Approach and fall back
Approach and fall back
Like a shy teenager
Trying to work up the courage
To ask for a dance.
After our meal
We lie down on the sand
Our small packs pillowing our heads
Our sun hats covering our faces
And fall asleep
For a half-hour or so
Then awaken stiffly and reluctantly
Peering out from under our hat brims
At the glinting ocean,
Listening to the soft splashing
Of gently breaking waves.
As we yawn and stretch
Watching a plastic bottle
Wash up onto the beach
Our sleep-scattered thoughts
Slowly pull themselves together
And we feel the return of grief
For all that is being done
To our wracked and battered Earth,
Our fears for us all
Flooding our hearts once more.
We stand up, hoist our packs,
Brush off the sand,
Take a few deep breaths of sea air
For the road,
Then head out across dunes and pastures
Back to our car
And back to the global struggle
To repair a world out of whack.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesdayand others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

REMEMBERING NICOLAI

by Bob Stanley


Stock vintage photo.


I didn’t forget about the old photo of Nicolai,
or what grandpa said about him,
that tears came easily to his eyes,
and that his oils of snow-capped mountains,
with rivers running behind blue pine trees sold well.
Grandpa told me Nicolai loved men instead of women: he always did.
The Nazis had taken him one evening
as he was going out dressed for the theater,
dressed in a long black coat and fedora.
They took him to camp Mauthausen,
robed him in striped pajamas and gave him a pink triangle for a name.
At the end of the war,
the allies liberated the camp,
but Nicolai was found naked and dead,
nothing left of him but a winter’s husk and dead raven’s eyes.

I often wonder looking back,
if Nicolai and the men he loved
were as happy as the men I saw dancing,
on the paper mache float in the Gay Pride parade:
with their asses exposed in black leather chaps,
red jock straps, green feathered boas, lipstick and heels
and sun-tanned smiles?

Grandpa died last week.

So now, looking at this old photo
of Nicolai and Grandpa at the beach as young men
I’m left to wonder
how I shall pour out what is left of my life.


Bob Stanley lives in Pickerington Ohio and works for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles as a civil servant. Personal heroes include brother Joey, brave companion in the fiery walk of the family past and what is to come, and his late mother Lillian who demonstrated both the healing and destructive power of imagination, and his father Jack who instilled the value of hard work.  Bob is currently working on his first novel and his first collection of poetry.  Bob likes to remind people that Franz Kafka and Herman Melville were also civil servants.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I AM PUERTO RICO

by Kathleen A. Lawrence



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I am not an island

surrounded by big water

but shimmering shores

lapped by the tears of my people

I am not a dirty barrio
but a street strung

with a clothesline filled
with aprons and smocks

I am not mud caked

but the color of rich clay

and sparkling amber gemstones

I am not a gray swirl of storm
but a lovely ocean breeze

I am a centipede with countless legs
moving together to make repairs

I am the evening breeze
whistling come home

I am the chartreuse fern
bowing to our emerald palms

I am the indigo sky

fluttering like a dancing petticoat

I am the contented sigh

in our silver-edged moonrise

I am the sweetness

of our plump, clementine sun

I am joyful as I play
hide and seek behind
our rolling, laughing hills

I am strong like the backs of our beetles
I am flying with rainbow wings

I am as quick as our waterfalls
I am as spirited as the acid green coqui

I am Puerto Rico


Kathleen A. Lawrence has had poems published in Rattle (Poets Respond), Eye to the Telescope, Scryptic, Silver Birch Press, haikuniverse, Silver Blade Magazine, The Wild Word Magazine (Germany), Altered Reality Magazine, Undertow Tanka Review, Silver Blade Magazine, TheNewVerse.News, and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, among others. Recently two of her poems were nominated for 2017 Best of the Net awards, and another was nominated for the 2017 Rhysling Award of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). In 2016 she won third place for “Even Happy Ghosts are Scary Ghosts When You’re Seven” in the SFPA poetry contest. She was a Poet of the Week at Poetry Super Highway in January 2017.

Monday, October 09, 2017

THINKING ABOUT MARILOU

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco



Of all
people I

should be more
sympathetic, should

be kinder to
The Woman Who Loved
Wrong—after

all, I have
been her,

sitting next
to a dark window

on the plane,
with the shadow

of the plane
lost in the ocean

with the person

I loved
lost

to all kindness. But
I can’t


get past her picture (not

her fault), how she

is smiling
and a fingertip of white hair

on her forehead (not
her fault)

shows she didn’t touch
the color up

and blue is all
around her like a
halo, and she’s

happy, and I

hate her
hate her
hate her

because, then,
she didn’t know

because
she wanted
to be loved

because it’s too hard
after all
to be so

sad.


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley, and co-edits One Sentence Poems. Her chapbook Various Lies is available from Finishing Line Press.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

THE PAIN IN SPAIN

by Jerome Betts




BARCELONA — The leader of Catalonia said Wednesday night that he wanted a negotiated settlement to the region’s conflict with the Spanish government, but he did not offer to shelve his secessionist plan. —The New York Times, October 4, 2017


Catalonia's vote was galvanic.
On the ship of state's bridge there is panic.
   Madrid seems to envision
   Not a minor collision
But the iceberg that split the Titanic.


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, TheNewVerse.News, Parody, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial, and Snakeskin.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GO OUT TO YOU

by Melissa Balmain


Well, of course your mom was precious and I'm sad she's not alive, 
but the answer's not to confiscate my HK MP5—
it's to hand all moms their own! You'd still be Mama's honeybun
if, instead of brunch on Mother's Day, you'd thought to give a gun,
give a gun, give a gun, give a love-your-mama gun.

As for spouses, yours was beautiful before her head blew off—
how I wish you'd bought yourselves a his-and-hers Kalashnikov,
and avoided parties, films and other useless couples' fun.
Friday night's for weapons training, it's a chance to date a gun,
date a gun, date a gun, date a hot-o-matic gun.

And your little boy? Adorable—a shame he couldn't bolt.
He's our proof that every teacher ought to have the latest Colt,
plus a practice range where tire swings and tetherballs once spun.
Skip those silly games at recess till each Teach can aim a gun,
aim a gun, aim a gun, aim a Core-required gun.

So come on, quit being haters, don't you give my rights a shove.
There's a way for me to keep my gun, and you the folks you love!
All it takes is recognition that your highest goal, bar none,
is to plan your daily lives around my need to own a gun
that is deadlier than any used from Vicksburg to Verdun,
while ensuring that this right belongs to nearly everyone,
even online-shopping crazies who buy rifles by the ton.
Love my gun, love my gun—you're the planets, it's the sun—
Love my gun, love my gun: if you don't, you'd better run.


Melissa Balmain's poems have appeared in such places as American Life in Poetry, Lighten Up Online, Poetry Daily, and The Washington Post's Style Invitational; her prose in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and Success. She's the author of Walking In on People (winner of the Able Muse Book Award).

Friday, October 06, 2017

BREAKING POINT

by David Chorlton




He was there to play, not to party. The night before the shooting, Mr. Paddock made two complaints to the hotel about noise coming from his downstairs neighbors: Albert Garzon, a restaurant owner visiting from San Diego, and his wife and friends. Mr. Garzon, who was staying in 31-135, directly beneath Mr. Paddock, said security guards knocked on his door around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday and asked him to turn down his music, country songs. When he asked where the complaint was coming from, pointing out that the nearest rooms on either side were far away, the security guard said, “It’s the guest above you.” —The New York Times, October 4, 2017


He was a quiet man, a man
who worked with numbers and amassed
more money than he had use for
so he spent some on guns
which made him feel bigger
than he was, but still quiet.
No known affiliations
to a cause or a religion
whose god ordered him to kill.
He liked to play against machines, to watch
the cards and count the winnings.
Otherwise, he kept
to himself.
He needed to sleep to concentrate next time
around.
      Suppose
it wasn’t the sense of a mission
that made him stack
his weapons in the room, suppose
he simply liked to carry them around
just in case
he ever needed them, you know,
for some spontaneous and banal reason
such as the noise
rising from the concert stage thirty-two floors down
and when it went on too, too
long, he smashed the window
and didn’t have to aim.


David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His newest collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and late in 2017 The Bitter Oleander Press will publish Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

STARING AT A SHELF OF BOURBON

by Megan Merchant 




Three days later my husband is on his way
home from Vegas. I stop to buy bourbon, the expensive kind,

as if this is just a movie and I can pour it into the wound
to keep it from spreading. I sketch words to avoid using—

blood, gun, bodies until there is at least a scab,
and the grip of nightmares have lost their choke-hold.

I ask the guy which kind packs the most punch, hearing again
my husband’s voice breaking into tears, worried he did not do enough.

Bulleit, his says, without wincing, the shelf stocked full enough to sterilize
any feeling, to stupor any change.


Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ.  She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016 Best Book Award), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, 2017), four chapbooks, and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of the United States.

EARLY MONDAY MORNING

by Peg Quinn



Every screen screams another mass shooting.
I lug a bucket of water saved from
warming my shower to a begonia,
its blossoms neither red, or magenta but
a bright blending of the two together.

Soft clouds dance a brisk parade cross the sky.


Peg Quinn is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, mural and theatrical set painter and award-winning quilter.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

THIS TIME

by Heather Newman


A police officer directed a bystander off the crime scene on the Boston Common. JOSH REYNOLDS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE, September 12, 2017


1.

On a mid-September afternoon
in historic Boston Common
multiple gunshots were fired
near the bandstand, among bystanders, a brazen act,
police called it, locals say this never happens in Boston,
                                    it’s a college town.
A nineteen-year-old Hyde Park man
was critically injured. The shooting triggered
chaos in one of the nation’s oldest parks.
Police chased a man into a trolley tunnel at Arlington station,
a gun was recovered, three are in custody.              
Police believe it was not a random act.
But this is not a poem about terrorists or home growns
or viable solutions for
public safety.
Authorities say an argument preceded the shooting,
all people involved in the incident are known to police
                                    and it’s unclear if it’s drug or gang related.
This is a poem
about those who dodge a bullet and
those who are not dead, yet


2.

She calls me crying, barely able to speak, and I fear the worst.
Twenty minutes before, we had been chatting. She was
                                    on a mission to discover
a farmers market. She loves her classes, her roommate.
I’m thrilled; this wasn’t her first choice of schools.
Please, God, don’t let it be rape.
She tells me she ran from gunfire but she’s safe, back in her dorm.
I’m relieved. School is in lockdown.            
On the internet. Looks like they caught the shooter.
She says she thought about playing dead instead of running.
We had discussed this right after Sandy Hook.
                                    I’m in New York City and I’ve never run from gunfire.
Twitter says two of the three suspects fled on mopeds.
Impossible, she says. Those guys on the red vespas were not the shooters.
Are you sure you want to get involved?
She spent hours at police headquarters, couldn’t sleep for days.
I flew her home for the weekend, took her shopping.
                                    Statistics say this shouldn’t happen to her again.


3.

“When you hear ‘active shooter,’ you run . . .”
this epidemic, these pleas, how many die before
                                    another one
“It sounded like fireworks . . .”
flags lowered, legislation, time for congress to enact
                                    another one
NRA, massacres, stranglers, bombers, revolutions
prove we can’t stop
another one  
“These are happening too much, these shootings,”
thoughts and prayers, in God we trust
                                    another one


4.

But back to the Common.
This story won’t be found on CNN or Fox News,
The New York Times or The Washington Post.
It was just another boy
not enrolled in a college, somewhere in critical condition.
And three unnamed others, who knew each other and were known to police;

                                    they were released the next day.


Heather Newman is an MFA candidate at The New School (NYC.) Her work has appeared in Voices from Here, Vol. II, TheNewVerse.News, The Potomac, Two Hawks Quarterly, Aji Magazine, Matter, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and eChook.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

SWAMP POEM

a sonnet by Cindy Hochman


Add caption

Throw your old comb & hairbrush into the swamp.
Throw your hamper full of dirty laundry into the swamp.
Throw that bad poem you wrote this morning into the swamp.
Throw your shattered-after-the-breakup heart into the swamp.
Throw your mother-in-law into the swamp.
Throw your cataracts, your ulcers, your tumors into the swamp.
Throw war and all its symbols into the swamp.
Throw all Rebel statues, from Virginia to Alabama, into the swamp.
Throw the lawyers, the bailiffs, the judges, and the guilty defendants into the swamp.
Throw the press secretary and her podium of mendacity into the swamp.
Throw the rolled heads of recently departed staffers into the swamp.
Throw the hurricanes’ fallen branches, and the West Wing’s executive branch,
  and the Great Lawn with its Easter Egg Roll and pardoned turkeys into the swamp.
And the president, that no-goodnik, into the fetid, putrid, malodorous, stinking swamp.


Cindy Hochman is the president of "100 Proof" Copyediting Services and the editor-in-chief of the online poetry journal First Literary Review-East. She is on the book review staffs of Pedestal magazine and Clockwise Cat. Her latest chapbook is Habeas Corpus (Glass Lyre Press).

Monday, October 02, 2017

WHAT FEEDS US

by Amy Strauss Friedman

Each morning I reach into a bag of broken hearts
to feed my dog. Chicken biscuits in fragments
from freighting. He devours them whole
as if his survival hinges on love, on ancestry,
an ancient civilization that still remembers him.

He chews them rabidly as news of Las Vegas
bleeds through the television screen, another omen
of our dying planet. Our stars have left the scene
for the night, and in their wake the smoky scars
of the newly dead. We feast on broken hearts.
It’s all we have to feed us.


Amy Strauss Friedman is the author of the poetry collection The Eggshell Skull Rule forthcoming from Kelsay Books, and the chapbook Gathered Bones are Known to Wander (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016). A two-time Best of the Net nominee, her poems have appeared in The Rumpus, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Escape Into Life, decomP, and elsewhere. Amy lives in Denver, Colorado where she teaches English at Columbia College.

TAKING A KNEE

by Martin Ott



You could be getting knighted or holding a ring,
the sun lined up squarely in the sights of your throw.
I have worn a uniform, positioned flags at half mast,
and aimed a rifle in the air while caskets are lowered.
You could be praying or imagining how white stripes
press down on blood lines basking in a field of stars.
They are balancing on caps that could break in battle,
warriors throwing themselves at the one holding on.
You could believe in silence that speaks to us in mass.
Wind whipping our flag is the same no matter the stand.


Martin Ott’s most recent book is Spectrum, C&R Press, 2016. He is the author of seven books and won the De Novo and Sandeen prizes for his first two poetry collections. His work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines and a dozen anthologies. He tweets and blogs.

WHEN JESUS TOOK A KNEE

by Alejandro Escudé




When Jesus took a knee
beside the palm tree
and the Romans there
paused, gulped the air,
no one could believe
Pontius Pilate’s decree
that all those who
did the same, who
took a knee as Jesus
did, those dividing us,
meaning the Romans,
should be treated as
traitors to the empire
and be set on fire
or hung upon a cross
which is cut of cypress.

A vision was bestowed
to those alive, glowed
a white H upon a field,
with a ball, oval-shaped,
alighting over the center
emitted by a gladiator
below, a ball or a skull,
one couldn’t really tell
but watched it soar high
as a crowd sprang nigh
to cheer the spectacle,
the human-like tentacle,
a wingspan to the bars
and then the long limbs,
finally the head, eyes
like blackened starlight,
the man hanging there
for all to witness, bare
save for a shoulder pad
nimble and heavy, a hood
red-gold, an eagle spread,
a man who cried, bled.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

SHIP-WRECKED MEXICANS

by Gil Hoy



All those
American citizens

With no food,
No water

On an island
Surrounded by
Big water

Ocean water,

Are getting
rowdy and unruly.


Let the wild winds howl,

Let the flooding rains run.


Editor's note: The title is an epithet defined here.

Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer and poet. He received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an MA in Government from Georgetown University, and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. Hoy served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His work has appeared, most recently, in Third Wednesday, The Write Room, Clark Street Review and TheNew Verse.News.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

I DON'T NEED ANY MORE FACTS

by Ann Bracken




Time unfurls like a faded banner
and drops me into a world of flim-flam
reasoning where ancient politicians
offer the same centuries-old fleecing techniques
to justify war.

I no longer labor to understand
Vietnam
with its random horrors, permanent scars
on people, on land, on psyches.

Images fuse to my heart
as I watch a few hours of Ken Burns’
latest epic.

An American soldier sits on a river-bank
his feet planted in the deep, black water.
He stares blankly, ignoring the upturned
face of a questioning toddler
who places a small hand on his knee.

And somewhere else in time
a young soldier flicks his Zippo
lighter and sets flame to a hut—
the family cowering on the ground,
covers their eyes and cries for mercy.

Time cleaves open an old lexicon—where
bodies count towards victory
and pacification destroys both hearts and minds.
Shame and powerlessness
burn my soul like napalm.


Ann Bracken is the author of two collections of poetry: The Altar of Innocence and No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroom. She serves as the deputy editor of Little Patuxent Review and offers writing workshops in schools, community centers, and prisons.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

THEY DON'T REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE . . .

by Maria Lisella




… the immigrants, the sharecroppers,
the unskilled laborers standing on corners
waiting for work, maybe it was the Hell’s Gate Bridge
or the dangerous bowels of the subways.

Sharing low-lit tenements with men piled high
swapping pillows, sheets and beds as they returned
from the morning shift, the evening shift

The stench of those men-filled quarters
No women to dress for, to clean for,
to shave for, a society of men clammy

in winters, sultry in summers, saving
meager wages split with padroni
and landlords, before sending bits and pieces

Home to bring wives and children
here to this foreign place, trying
to remember why they left home,

Was it that bad? Yes it was, wives don’t tell
the men in their letters, of the famine,
the deaths, a silk thread of hope spanning

The Atlantic, to feel whole again
not so alone, to be human instead
of imitating animals in the daily routine:

Wake, work, sleep, nothing in between
no rises or falls or celebrations or
clean towels or bread on the table

Set for four, six or set at all.
Eating while standing becomes a skill
on the corners waiting for the work

If the policeman doesn’t move them
to another corner, stepping into strangers’
cars, a dangerous deal for a day’s work

Now the men speak with accents from:
Mexico, Guyana, India but they are not
so different from our grandfathers and uncles

Shifting from one foot to the other to keep warm
expecting a day’s pay by nightfall, but who can tell?
they have no choice.

My mother recalls the stories of her father, brothers.
She cannot understand the nieces, nephews
who don’t see their ancestors’ faces before them.


Maria Lisella is the sixth Queens Poet Laureate 2015-2018. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Poetry Prize, her collections include Thieves in the Family, Amore on Hope Street, and Two Naked Feet. She co-curates the Italian American Writers Association readings, is a NY Expert for USA TODAY, and contributes to La Voce di New York.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A DIVIDER NOT A UNITER, T***P WIDENS THE BREACH

by Ron Riekki

Nick Anderson / Cagle Cartoons


            “A Divider Not a Uniter, Trump Widens the Breach”
                        --Peter Baker, The New York Times, Sept. 24, 2017


T***p’s a caesura, a seizure,     a thing that goes a-sailing
and assailing but needs desperate restraining; I think
of the psych ward patients in horror films but reimagine
them as reenactors, the way the Civil War never ended,
and a sort of clown makeup hairdo skin cross, no, crucifix
between John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy.  T***p’s
a business man, wise with pennies.  Let’s call him Penny-
wise, for short.  An It man.  In the whitest house ripping
the country in have and have-nots.  A snot Prez, a denier,
the dernier person we’d want to wed to the Presidency,
a David Duke of Earl.  But a part of me doesn’t blame
T***p, but rather blames the T***p voter who set up
for this country to be torn apart . . . You see racists hid
right in the word supremacists, hid right in the voting
booths.  The waitress approaches, says, Would you like
a John Wilkes table or a John Wilkes booth?  The sick
temper of his Sic semper tyrannis Oedipus train wrecks.
Even the Republicans at work are finally mumbling,
This guy’s a friggin idiot.  His only talent is garnering
media tension, ad nauseam.  You ever see a supposed
strong man rip a phone book in half?  It’s really sort of
highly                                                            unimpressive.


Ron Riekki wrote U.P.: a novel (Great Michigan Read nominated) and edited The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

FLAG FOOTBALL

by Ed Werstein

Randall Enos / Cagle Cartoons

The president tweeted
his little whistle and threw the flag
in front of the protesting players.

For once the players weren’t
trying to call attention to themselves.
For once they weren’t stomping
or goose-stepping around the field
beating their chests with their
“I’m number one” finger
pointing toward the heavens,
or jumping into the laps of joyous fans.
They were kneeling.
Simply kneeling, to call attention
to an injustice suffered by others,
and to call attention to the fact
that they saw this as an American problem.
The problem for the president
was that they weren’t kneeling to him.
So he tweeted his whistle
as referee-in-chief, and threw the flag.
The call was unpatriotic conduct.
The president wanted the NFL renamed
The National Flag League. He wanted
the ball replaced, and a flag marched
up and down the field
in an even more war-like game
to match the militaristic fever
he wanted to stir up in the country.
Most of all, he wanted the players penalized.
He was used to people kneeling,
but right in front of him
and for a different reason.


Ed Werstein, Milwaukee, a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, was 60 before his muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. He advocates for peace and against corporate power. His poetry has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Blue Collar Review, Gyroscope Review, and several others. His chapbook Who Are We Then? was published by Partisan Press.

Monday, September 25, 2017

REVERSE PHYSICS

by David Radavich


Cartoon by Drew Sheneman, September 21, 2017.


If millions lose their health
care, will anyone hear
in the forest
of the innocents?

Gravity will run upward
like a cyclone
sweeping all before it,

the apple will go skyborne
from the grass
into the golden leaves,

thousands will stand
outside the orbit
of hospitals, clinics, doctors,

the chemistry of addiction
will grow inward—
to arteries and minds
and communities of death

that whiten the wealthy
and whirl into space
all dignity and justice and love.


David Radavich's recent poetry collections are America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Middle-East Mezze (2011), and The Countries We Live In (2014).  His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe. Much of his work deals with social justice issues.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

SUNDAY MORNING IN ST. LOUIS

by George Salamon


Police arrested at least 22 people in a protest at the St. Louis Galleria on Saturday, September 23 amid the continuing reaction to the acquittal Sept. 15 of a white police officer in the shooting death of Jason Stockley.  —Photo tweeted by Derk Brown


Water on the stove is boiling,
I slice a loaf of bread.
Restless, I press the power button
On my small kitchen radio.

"North Korean crisis heats up,
Washes whiter than ever,
Military option is on the table,
Big tech stocks are on the rise."

I don't pound the radio to smithereens,
Its voice of terror soothes me,
Its familiarity calms me,
Confirming most of us are still alive.

In St. Louis, protesters are marching and shouting again. Then those not arrested go home.


George Salamon lives in St. Louis, MO.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

WHITE MEN WRITING RACE

by Robert Carr



Image source: WiffleGIF



A liberal is someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do.  —James Baldwin


There is a wise white woman
in my life, counting dead black people.
They break her pulse, her heart.
That's real. She etches names

into a journal, copper markers
in her garden. She says, "Feel
like maybe it's someone else's
story, and I should stick to dandelions."

Blow ball fruits blown into air,
an untenable lawn. High flying
single seeds. Everything about this
poem tells me, Get out of the way.


Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, a chapbook published in 2016 by Indolent Books. His poetry has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Kettle Blue Review, TheNewVerse.News, Radius Literary Magazine, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Good Men Project and other publications. He lives with his husband Stephen in Malden, Massachusetts and serves as  an associate poetry editor for Indolent Books


Editor's Note: This poem is reprinted from an earlier edition of TheNewVerse.News .

Friday, September 22, 2017

NUCLEAR NURSERY RHYME

by Jerome Betts


A Reddit user used Photoshop to imagine what President Trump and Kim Jon Un would look like if they swapped hair. Via The Daily Mail.


One brought new missiles out to play
To which another said ‘No, K!’
So Rocket Man and Donald J.
Between them risked a world flambé.


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, TheNewVerse.News,  Parody, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial, and Snakeskin.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

FOR THE ROHINGYA

by Charise M. Hoge




There are some
who must turn fire
into a tidal wave,
become a waterfall
mountain cascade.
But they are not liquid
made. Sinewy and limbed,
in limbo a long walk
from any land with their name,
where any can say “mine”.
Mine becomes the casualty
of forwardness, of egress.
Damages damming arrival
of a people––unchampioned,
already damned.


Charise M. Hoge, MA, MSW, is a dance/movement therapist, performing artist, and writer. She is co-author of the book A Portable Identity: A Woman’s Guide to Maintaining a Sense of Self While Moving Overseas, and her poetry chapbook Striking Light from Ashes was published July 2017 by Finishing Line Press.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

FOR ROSH HASHANAH

by Alan Walowitz



       
Victor (Zeke) Zonana (1924-2016)

Now onto this New Year, bad as it promises to be—
there’s rumor You, too, have given up,
filled with Your own brand of regret:
seeing us squander our gifts—
wasting our will as if it were a game,
failing to care for our own,
or honor this place we like to call home.
So now You’re headed out-of-town,
like some will-o’-the-wisp
to locate some new folks, perhaps, and begin
In the beginning, all over again.

But if I’m wrong and it be Thy will
and You’re listening still,
dear God, what the hell,
let us be inscribed again, then sealed.

Though please feel free to pass on him
we’ve loved so well
who takes his place one final time
and happily chants the ancient prayers
for those of us so far removed, we don’t remember how.
But unlike You, our renegade and sometimes vengeful God,
this old man’s not rash nor filled with rage.
But of his own considered will he, too, wants out.
Let it be recorded here, as in Aleppo once,
a temperate man took his life in his hands,
then gently chose—of his own free will—to let it go.


Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in his native borough of Queens, NY. Alan’s chapbook Exactly Like Love was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THE VALUES

by Jon Taylor




Ecocide,
genocide, slavery
and war are the four horsemen
of American greatness.

America didn’t invent
these riders of the apocalypse
but has embraced them wholeheartedly
from her first day to her latest.

Ask the felled forests
or the disappeared tribes
or those paraded in the markets
or the lands invaded.

America rose
and became great
and exceptional and indispensable
and will founder on the same steeds.


Jon Taylor is the author of Berry Picker’s Blues, a volume of Michigan/Northwoods/Upper Peninsula poems. He can be reached at taylor.jon440(at)gmail.com.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A SACRED RITE: WHEN ATHLETES KNEEL

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman




                                it could have been genuflections in a church
                                but there was no stained glass    no pews
                                yet they knelt in a presence greater themselves
                                a silence    a sanctuary    on a field  
                               now a battle wages using words that pelt like stones
                                that cannot comprehend
this sacred moment   this most protected of all rights
                                to dissent     to kneel    to stand    to risk it all


Sister Lou Ella Hickman has been an all-level teacher and a librarian. Presently she is a freelance writer and a spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been widely published in numerous magazines. One of her poems was published in the anthology After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Her first book of poetry she: robed and wordless, published by Press 53, was released in the fall of 2015.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

HURRICANE SEASON

by Jan Steckel 


Poster by Rusty Ford


The mercury was in triple digits, the moon
ocherous with smoke, cities submerged.
An orange gibbon necklaced in skulls
drop kicked brown-skinned Americans
over borders, polkaed over illegal bodies.

We sandbagged against the Klan,
stored water for dousing crosses,
hoarded fuel to flee Brown Shirts.
Cyclones whirled clockwise
south of the equator,
widdershins in the North.

We covered windows with plywood.
Black Bloc buffeted the downtown.
We all renewed our passports.
Churches built secret shelters
for the undocumented.
It was too late to evacuate the States.

We sheltered in place,
hunkered and braced for
depressions and disturbances.
A brassy trumpet’s wall rumbled up.
The Daily Stormer surged.
The Republic came tumbling down.


Jan Steckel was a Harvard- and Yale-trained pediatrician who took care of Spanish-speaking children until chronic pain persuaded her to change professions to writer, poet and medical editor. She is an activist for bisexual and disability rights who lives in Oakland, California. Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her creative writing has appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Her work won the Goodreads Newsletter Poetry Contest, a Zeiser Grant for Women Artists, the Jewel by the Bay Poetry Competition, Triplopia’s Best of the Best competition, and three Pushcart nominations.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

THE ANTS

by Fred Nagel


Photo from a video provided by Newsy Newslook to USA Today.


Their round, brown bodies twinkling in the sun,
They came together, not like one of Marlborough’s victories,
But in a chocolate flow.

On my knees above the patch, I tried
To make out warriors or lovers.
But so small the ants, and teaming,
That their frenzy blurred their meaning.

Hours later, sun slanted low,
I surveyed again the field below.
Legless, the few that lingered there,
Writhed to follow, I know not where.


Fred Nagel is a US veteran and political activist whose articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Global Exchange, Mondoweiss, Popular Resistance, War Crimes Times (Veterans For Peace publication) and Z Magazine. He also hosts ClassWars, a show on Vassar College Radio, WVKR.

Friday, September 15, 2017

RAPTURE: A SORT OF SONNET

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle


Oregon wildfire, September 6, 2017. Photo source: NBC4i


I often think of immolation when the wind
gets up to no good as is does here
in the mountains and reminds me how wildfires
take California, the gulf rains take Houston,

how puffery takes over Washington with
no particular purpose. I have a gracious
plenty of canned goods set by in case
Al Gore is right when he shows me pictures

of what can only be the End of Days—
fires and drought enough to raise a hallelujah.
I’m glad for the heads up and good on Al.
It’s eschatology no matter what you suppose.

The end will come, if you pick science or religion—
either the Rapture or the god dammed secular flame.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle live in the Ozarks where she #Resists Arkansas politics and politicians. She is the author of two books and five chapbooks.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

TWILIT SONNET

by Andrena Zawinski


A homeless woman, her possessions, and her dog on Division Street. Image from Orange County Register via BrokeAssStuart.


In twilight’s dusky backstreets and muted alleys,
the dispossessed huddle for the evening
in boxes or sleeping bags, under freeways,
at doorways, inside storage bins. They retreat

to the bleak hum at the margins of byways
some babbling narratives or needling about,
others planning a way out, a way away,
wandering through fleeting corners of comfort.

Just one more night, like sparrows and pigeons,
they stake their place, tucking into themselves,
roosting deep into nooks along city ledges,      
inside cavities of trees. Once sheltered,                  

their public pieces of darkened parcels
eclipse beneath the wayward heavens.


Andrena Zawinski’s third and recently released poetry collection is Landings from Kelsay Books. Her poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, and social concern. She is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com, a Poetry Board member at The Literary Nest, and founder and organizer of the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NEVER FORGET

by Scott C. Kaestner




Never forget 9/11.
Never forget Trayvon Martin.
Never forget climate change.
Never forget to tell someone you love "I love you."
Never forget Emmet Till.
Never forget the Holocaust.
Never forget Hiroshima & Nagasaki.
Never forget not all cops are good cops.
Never forget not all cops are bad cops.
Never forget to be kind.
Never forget to say thank you.
Never forget it's an athlete's constitutional right to sit during the national anthem.
Never forget to fight against fascists.
Never forget to seek shelter during a hurricane.
Never forget the United States is a country founded by and for immigrants.
Never forget the lives of soldiers lost fighting for our country.
Never forget a homeless vet.
Never forget our children are watching.
Never forget we're all in this together.
Never forget, never forget, never forget.


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, dad, husband, son, and dream weaver. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings and doings.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

HERE, HOLDING ON

by Carolyn Martin


Photo by Rob Sheridan: Ground Zero, New York City. October, 2001.
                                             
                        for New York City


October 1, 2001

Twenty days of barricades
and twos and threes pause
on Chambers Street—
business suits, backpacks, hoodies,
uniforms in every shape.
No one pontificates
over vacant desks and pews,
tear-wet beds, fire stations gone,
bone fragments searching for home.

Here, they’re awed.
Tower shadows fled.
The first time in thirty years
Village streets and living rooms,
store fronts with their sidewalk signs,
responders struggling with ash
bathe in sun. They bathe in the sun.

Here, light takes hold
and I, a stranger from 3,000 miles west,
grab a subway strap,
head to an uptown hotel
to write this down.

August 7, 2017

Here, breaking news:
DNA defines one more loss.
(Male. Unnamed. Per family request.)

Who’s left?

Eleven-hundred twelve gathered
in dusty dark, sharing thoughts
they thought as shadows dissolved.
Comparing notes on deals signed,
dinners served, dreams deferred
for the practicalities of work,
little words unsaid.

Here, holding on—each to each—until
they’re freed from this room
where they’ve agreed on the coarsest truth:
closure is a human myth.        


From English teacher to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK, and her third poetry collection Thin Places was released by Kelsay Books in Summer 2017.

Monday, September 11, 2017

HAIKU

by Lee Nash



hurricane season
a journalist flies
against the flow


Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Presence, The Interpreter's House, The Lake and The World Haiku Review.